As Time Marches On
Much has been made of the ten year anniversary of 9/11, and rightfully so. We all likely remember where we were when the world changed in an instant. For some the tragedy was as close as a breath, for others, it was as distant as a war on the other side of the world. Regardless of how you experienced 9/11, everyone, especially in America, still have to face the reality of 9/12 and the ongoing beat of time.
As the sun crested the horizon declaring Wednesday’s arrival, people were forced to face the reality that the world was still moving. How we moved forward would speak volumes of the hidden voice of our hearts. For some, hearts lashed out in rage, seeking revenge in the guise of justice for loved ones lost or innocence stolen. For others, fear ruled the day as the “devil” behind every bush took on a decidedly middle-eastern look. Some saw this horrible event as a call to return to God and others moved to understand the religion of a people who had otherwise been thought of in terms of a mere caricature of a far away land. Many, long convinced that communism was the Great Beast of Revelation meant to usher in the end of the world, took to the streets crying out that they were wrong, and Muslim extremism became the harbinger of Christ’s imminent return.
As the uncertainty of 9/12 washed over a nation, the collective clutching of loved ones was followed by an influx of people seeking solace in a place long forgotten, the church. Sitting in pews, returning to the place they believed to be safe, especially against the new great evil of Islam that had practically slammed into their own front door, I wonder what they heard. Did they hear calls for love and forgiveness, charity and peace, or did they hear the cries for justice, revenge and war? Were they offered a picture of God that reminded them that he promises to walk through these dark times alongside his people, or were they told of a God who was about to pour judgement out through the power and might of the red, white and blue?
My guess is that we’ve heard all these thoughts and more from the church in the ten years since, and I wonder what ought the Christian response be the day after their native land is the victim of something so brutal?
How would Jesus respond to those who slaughtered thousands of his people in a single act of fear, hatred and malice? What is the charge for citizens of God’s Kingdom each day that they live after their world caves in?
What might have happened if at the dawn of 9/12, every Christian had started their day praying for the families of those who hate us and who had lost loved ones of their own to a lie the day before. What glory might have been poured out to God if stories flooded the world’s consciousness of Christians who had become radical agents of love to neighbors near and far? Certainly these stories can be told (see Carl Medearis), but I haven’t heard too many of them, and I certainly haven’t lived any of these stories myself.
So the question today is, ten years after the dawn after the world was changed, how are Christians called to live? How are we to tell the story of God’s love through word and deed in such a way so that it transcends the logic of this world? How do we show love of enemy to such a degree that is seems like foolishness, remembering that we serve a God who acted foolishly himself when he gave his Son for the price to redeem his rebellious creation even when we had ourselves become his enemies.